Anthony Horowitz - “I am destined to be in Orford for eternity”

Novelist and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz Picture: GREGG BROWN

Novelist and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Archant

Author and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz visited Woodbridge to give a talk hosted by Jules Button from the Woodbridge Emporium about his life and works. We caught up with him to talk about his home in Orford, his love for Suffolk and how he plans to spend eternity in the county.

Sunset at Orford Ness Picture: NICK BOULTER/CITIZENSIDE.COM

Sunset at Orford Ness Picture: NICK BOULTER/CITIZENSIDE.COM - Credit:

Welcome to Woodbridge and to Seckford Hall, have you spent much time here in Woodbridge?

“I am in Woodbridge often, my sister used to live there and I often walk around Woodbridge. I’m not sure there is a lovelier walk in the world than through the river and parklands of Woodbridge and opposite Sutton Hoo and all that part of the world. It’s stunningly beautiful.”

What is your preferred walk then?

“Well because I live in Orford normally my favourite walk is the Spit walk. I walk along Butley Creek and back along through. I would do the one-hour version or the three-hour version depending on how I and my dog are feeling. Often one of my favourite walks is to start in Melton to walk across to Woodbridge following the railway line and then I keep going and the path takes you all the way along the river and you can get right to the very end and you can loop round up I think Sandy Lane. You cut up the hill and on your right is that road that leads you up the hill that leads you back down the hill again and then turn left into Woodbridge round to Woodbridge high street. Then I stop somewhere, there’s an extremely good baker’s shop, one of the best in the country. Stop there for a sandwich and then back through the railway, down and back to Melton. That’s a two and a half hour circle that I am very fond of.”

When did you first come down to Suffolk?

“I’ve been coming to Suffolk for getting on for 30 years. I first came here to buy a bed in Framlingham. There was a wonderful second-hand bed shop and my wife wanted a second-hand bed: which we still have because we bought it. We did a bed and breakfast in Southwold for some reason but we had bought the bed from Framlingham and had fallen in love with Suffolk by the time we had got the bed home. I still think it’s the most beautiful county in England and every time I leave Orford I wonder why. Why am I bothering? There’s nowhere else I would rather be.”

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And when did you first go to Orford?

“We used to have a house in Earl Soham. We rented a house there for about 12 years, maybe longer and as the children were growing up we used to drive every weekend across the A12 to go to Orford, to Walberswick, Westleton and Southwold. I used to chase them round the cannons when they were little tiny children. We had a very complicated game of cat and it or whatever around the cannons. I’d walk them down to the arcade and I would give them pennies to play on the machines at the bottom end. We’d go on the pier and we would have lunch in one of the pubs and so we just got to know the coast more and more and decided that it would make life easier if we lived there. One day a tiny little house in Orford came up for sale and we managed to buy it.”

How has Suffolk featured in your work, if even subtly?

“Not subtly at all, Magpie Murders, at least half the book in Orford. It’s Orford by name and Framlingham is in there as well. The hotel, The Crown is a setting of the book and one of the main characters lives in Framlingham and it all happens around here. One of the Alex Ryder novels was set in Suffolk as it happens the very last one. Never Say Die begins in Suffolk, in Felixstowe. Plus I wrote a TV show called Injustice some years ago. James Purefoy who starred in it stayed in this very hotel [Seckford Hall] where we are sitting and we used to have dinner with him some nights.”

If someone was coming to Suffolk for the first time and you could recommend them to go to one place where would that be?

“The thing about Suffolk is that pretty much all of it is beautiful. I could answer that in 10 or 15 ways. I would probably say go down Orford Ness. Stand on the corner of Orford Ness and Butley Creek and look at the view there and look at the light and the sky. There’s no sky like that anywhere in the world, the Suffolk skyline. As you stand there for ten minutes it’ll change, it keeps changing. Every day when I wake up in Suffolk the sky is different. It’s one of the things I love about it. So I would probably say there. Although that said there are so many different things. Suffolk has got wonderful restaurants like the Unruly Pig or the Oyster Inn in Butley. G&T’s Café and Kitchen, my favourite teashop in the entire world, is in Yoxford. I absolutely love the two ladies there that run it. They make wonderful cakes. Where else would I recommend people in Suffolk? The pier at Southwold, go and play on Tim Hunkin’s machines down there or do a walk. There’s a lovely walk from Aldeburgh. Go and look at the grave of Benjamin Britten and Peter Pears then walk to Thorpeness. That’s one of my very favourite walks as well. Come back along the coast.”

Would you ever consider moving down to Suffolk full-time?

“My trouble is, you’re thinking of retiring or whatever, I will never retire and my life is very peripatetic. I don’t spend a lot of time living in London. I spend the whole summer in Greece and I travel an enormous amount to America, I am always in and out of there and different places in Europe. I will end up in Orford I can tell you that for nothing because I have a plot in Orford cemetery. So one day I am destined to be there for eternity in Orford.”

What are you up to at the moment?

“At the moment I am writing a new Alex Ryder novel. I am writing a TV adaptation of Magpie Murders. We are also making a TV series of Alex Ryder so I am working a bit on that although I am not the writer. So quite a bit.”